My Life with Video Games, Day 1

First off, I’m elated to see the Blog Initiative, as it has inspired me to give back to Giantbomb in my own little way. My list of beaten games is ever-growing, but there is more to do with the profundity of gaming experience at my fingertips. While I could write 800 reviews, this isn't a huge contribution to an already saturated corner of gaming on the internet. Instead, I'm going to test the very limits of my memory. I am going to write this blog to catalog my life and how video games have been a part of it as best I can. This will include as much as I can remember from when I first picked up a controller to now: where I was in life, who was playing alongside, what the game did (or didn't do) for me. Hopefully, bringing this bit of personal context will put some familiar territory into new light for you fellow aficionados.

Well, nowhere better to start than at the beginning! Me and gaming first met in 1989 when I was all of five years old. Wee me had not yet experienced games on any screen (the Apple IIe was still a year or two away), and while my dad was against spending money on expensive “TV games”, my uncle surprised the whole family when he showed up with a Nintendo system complete with Super Mario/Duck Hunt. After moving the Betamax aside and hooking it up to the TV, I was curious but not necessarily in awe. The menu baffled me as is, and even with a tutorial from my uncle, working two buttons at the same time in accordance to that guy on the screen proved far more difficult than it looked. My sister also found the game too challenging and mostly dismissed it, but I kept at it. I should note here, despite being the younger sibling (by two years), my predominance with the machine understandably made me First Controller as default. It wasn’t until kindergarten that friends clued me into warp zones and levels beyond flying cheep-cheep insanity, so much of my early experience with the game remained in 1-1 and 1-2.

While Mario was a challenging curiosity, Duck Hunt was another story. Being able to wield that Zapper and watch as what I shot at go down was supremely satisfying. The pattern became that I’d give Mario a couple of levels, figuring out what pipes worked and where hidden 1-ups were for maybe 10-50 minutes, but then it was onto Duck Hunt. I’d of course stand adjacent to the television with the gun up to the screen so I could actually hit something, but my parents worried both for the TV and my eyesight being so close. We came up with a system where I’d put this big red pillow between me and the screen and that was the minimum distance I needed to be at all times. At some point I used the sights some (which improved a bit), but never got real great at it. Keep in mind, this is all One Duck play, rarely Two, and Clay Shooting was a pipedream. And no, we never figured out the pointing-at-a-light-bulb trick when it would’ve been useful. I still question whether or not the second controller can control the ducks.

And with that, the world of gaming was opened up to me. This ephemeral joy that I could only play if and only if no one else wanted to watch TV, and even then it never seemed like enough time. The goal wasn’t yet to “beat” anything, but instead to explore. After 15 minutes, most of my interest was gone and I’d usually be off to run around outside or get back to the Ninja Turtles battle I was simulating. But the NES and Mario had found their way into my wheelhouse for good that day. I like to think for the better.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Seraphim84

First off, I’m elated to see the Blog Initiative, as it has inspired me to give back to Giantbomb in my own little way. My list of beaten games is ever-growing, but there is more to do with the profundity of gaming experience at my fingertips. While I could write 800 reviews, this isn't a huge contribution to an already saturated corner of gaming on the internet. Instead, I'm going to test the very limits of my memory. I am going to write this blog to catalog my life and how video games have been a part of it as best I can. This will include as much as I can remember from when I first picked up a controller to now: where I was in life, who was playing alongside, what the game did (or didn't do) for me. Hopefully, bringing this bit of personal context will put some familiar territory into new light for you fellow aficionados.

Well, nowhere better to start than at the beginning! Me and gaming first met in 1989 when I was all of five years old. Wee me had not yet experienced games on any screen (the Apple IIe was still a year or two away), and while my dad was against spending money on expensive “TV games”, my uncle surprised the whole family when he showed up with a Nintendo system complete with Super Mario/Duck Hunt. After moving the Betamax aside and hooking it up to the TV, I was curious but not necessarily in awe. The menu baffled me as is, and even with a tutorial from my uncle, working two buttons at the same time in accordance to that guy on the screen proved far more difficult than it looked. My sister also found the game too challenging and mostly dismissed it, but I kept at it. I should note here, despite being the younger sibling (by two years), my predominance with the machine understandably made me First Controller as default. It wasn’t until kindergarten that friends clued me into warp zones and levels beyond flying cheep-cheep insanity, so much of my early experience with the game remained in 1-1 and 1-2.

While Mario was a challenging curiosity, Duck Hunt was another story. Being able to wield that Zapper and watch as what I shot at go down was supremely satisfying. The pattern became that I’d give Mario a couple of levels, figuring out what pipes worked and where hidden 1-ups were for maybe 10-50 minutes, but then it was onto Duck Hunt. I’d of course stand adjacent to the television with the gun up to the screen so I could actually hit something, but my parents worried both for the TV and my eyesight being so close. We came up with a system where I’d put this big red pillow between me and the screen and that was the minimum distance I needed to be at all times. At some point I used the sights some (which improved a bit), but never got real great at it. Keep in mind, this is all One Duck play, rarely Two, and Clay Shooting was a pipedream. And no, we never figured out the pointing-at-a-light-bulb trick when it would’ve been useful. I still question whether or not the second controller can control the ducks.

And with that, the world of gaming was opened up to me. This ephemeral joy that I could only play if and only if no one else wanted to watch TV, and even then it never seemed like enough time. The goal wasn’t yet to “beat” anything, but instead to explore. After 15 minutes, most of my interest was gone and I’d usually be off to run around outside or get back to the Ninja Turtles battle I was simulating. But the NES and Mario had found their way into my wheelhouse for good that day. I like to think for the better.

Posted by i69edUrGpa

Great writing and good luck in your future nostalgic tales